UCO community excited, cautious about fall semester

After over a year of alternative methods of delivering classes, the University of Central Oklahoma will return to a more standard semester this fall. 

The university announced that a return to full in person classes and Level 1 operations would be put in place beginning in August for the school’s fall semester as the country continues to try to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

UCO also announced in late May that; they would no longer mandate the use of masks or social distancing on campus, as they had since students came back to school in the fall of 2020. The university also lists that those who have not been vaccinated should continue to wear a mask, while those who have can wear still wear one if they choose to do so. 

“The university has followed CDC guidance throughout the pandemic and will continue to do so,” said Adrienne Nobles, UCO’s vice president for communications and public affairs. “Also case numbers on campus, in the surrounding community, state and nation are much lower.” 

This return to a more “normal” sort of semester has some people very excited. 

“It will be refreshing to return the Broncho spirit to the campus with the infusion of students, faculty, and staff,” said Tracy Fairless, the Director of Learning Design at the Center for eLearning and Connected Environments. “Both students and faculty will likely appreciate the return to the physical classrooms and the campus.” 

“We hope that students will be glad to return to campus under normal operations,” Nobles added. “This allows more opportunities to connect with fellow students as well as faculty and staff, which is an integral part of the Central experience.” 

Some however, have concerns but are still optimistic about returning to physical classes again. 

Emme Douglas, an interior design major at UCO said, “When I heard UCO was opening, I was a little worried about getting back in the habit of going to class every day because I got in the habit of going every other day and that worked really well for me.” 

Douglas, now a junior, was also excited about some of the great things that come with more in-person interaction. 

“The difficulties I faced was asking my professors for help or explaining an idea through email on the days we weren’t in class. In-person it is faster and easier to show them, so I’m ready to have that miscommunication go away,” Douglas said.

Some Bronchos preferred or even needed the virtual hybrid classes, and Fairless assures that those options are still there. 

“The option for more flexible learning will remain available with fully online degree programs and a wide range of online, hybrid and self-paced online courses,” she said. “UCO also offers a number of Interactive Video Courses (IVC) that closely resemble the Extended Classroom experience used in the past year as a response to COVID-19.” 

There are goals that the university hopes to achieve and benchmarks they hope to meet this fall. 

“Our mission at UCO is to help students learn in and out of the classroom so they can grow and become successful and engaged citizens after graduation,” Nobles said. “We stayed true to that mission through the height of the pandemic. And we remain committed to the mission as we are again able to fill our classrooms and gather in person.” 

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